453.) Acts 18

This NASA map clearly shows Corinth’s land bridge and double harbors.

Acts 18 (New Living Translation)

Paul Meets Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth

1 Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.

Corinth!  A city known for travel and trade, for indulgences of every kind, for widespread immorality.  It possessed two large harbors, so many commercial goods were unloaded here and shipped out to places throughout the Roman Empire.  The Temple of Venus was located here, with a thousand temple prostitutes available there for the “worshipers.”  A “Corinthian girl” was code for a prostitute.  Et cetera.  An ancient “Sin City.”

2 There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome (some scholars place the deportation at about AD 49). 3 Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was.

Even today, if a missionary has an outside job to support himself or herself on the mission field, it is called tentmaking.

4 Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. 5 And after Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia,

They came bringing good news to Paul from Thessalonica:

1 Thessalonians 3:6-10 (New Living Translation)

But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you. So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith.  It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord.

How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence.  Night and day we pray earnestly for you, asking God to let us see you again to fill the gaps in your faith.

Paul spent all his time preaching the word. He testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed and insulted him, Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said, “Your blood is upon your own heads—I am innocent. From now on I will go preach to the Gentiles.”

Paul rejects their rejection!  How much better it would be for us if we followed Paul’s example in such cases, to turn our faces and go forward to the next thing God directs, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves or angry at those who rejected us.  My mother would call such behavior of bearing no grudges “keeping short accounts.”

7 Then he left and went to the home of Titius Justus, a Gentile who worshiped God and lived next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, and everyone in his household believed in the Lord. Many others in Corinth also heard Paul, became believers, and were baptized.

9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! 10 For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” 11 So Paul stayed there for the next year and a half, teaching the word of God.

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Music:

How often we, like Paul, need an encouraging word from the Lord!  Consider the words of this song addressed directly to YOU today!  Don Moen’s “Be Strong and Take Courage.”

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12 But when Gallio became governor of Achaia, some Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him before the governor for judgment. 13 They accused Paul of “persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to our law.”

14 But just as Paul started to make his defense, Gallio turned to Paul’s accusers and said, “Listen, you Jews, if this were a case involving some wrongdoing or a serious crime, I would have a reason to accept your case. 15 But since it is merely a question of words and names and your Jewish law, take care of it yourselves. I refuse to judge such matters.” 16 And he threw them out of the courtroom.

17 The crowd then grabbed Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him right there in the courtroom. But Gallio paid no attention.

By refusing to get involved in strictly religious matters, Gallio does right — and effectively gives legal protection to Christianity.

Paul Returns to Antioch of Syria

18 Paul stayed in Corinth for some time after that, then said good-bye to the brothers and sisters and went to nearby Cenchrea. There he shaved his head according to Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow.

The vow was probably the vow of a Nazirite (Numbers 6).  Usually, the vow of a Nazirite was taken for a certain period of time, and when completed, the hair (which had been allowed to freely grow) was cut off and offered to the Lord at a special ceremony at the temple in Jerusalem.

Then he set sail for Syria, taking Priscilla and Aquila with him.

19 They stopped first at the port of Ephesus, where Paul left the others behind. While he was there, he went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews. 20 They asked him to stay longer, but he declined. 21 As he left, however, he said, “I will come back later, God willing.” Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22 The next stop was at the port of Caesarea. From there he went up and visited the church at Jerusalem and then went back to Antioch.

23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul went back through Galatia and Phrygia, visiting and strengthening all the believers.

Apollos Instructed at Ephesus

24 Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. 25 He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. 26 When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.

27 Apollos had been thinking about going to Achaia, and the brothers and sisters in Ephesus encouraged him to go. They wrote to the believers in Achaia, asking them to welcome him. When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God’s grace, had believed. 28 He refuted the Jews with powerful arguments in public debate. Using the Scriptures, he explained to them that Jesus was the Messiah.

Apollos turned out to be a valuable helper to Paul in carrying out his work in Corinth and Ephesus.

1 Corinthians 3:6 (New International Version, ©2010)

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.”

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Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
NASA map of Corinth.    http://www.ebibleteacher.com/imagehtml/images/800×600/Corinth%20Athens%20800.JPG
tentmakers.    http://nornirn.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/priscilla_aquila.gif
not my problem.    http://secretvespers.com/notmyproblemboysmall.jpg
watering little plants.    http://www.canadiangardening.com/img/photos/biz/CanadianGardening/march2010/seed-water.jpg
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